FAQ: Reusing
Insulin Syringes

Can you reuse insulin syringes?


The arguments for and against reuse of disposable needles, whether attached to insulin syringes or to insulin pen cartridge-based systems, are similar to those for lancets. Insulin is injected subcutaneously, not intravenously. Therefore, cleanliness rather than sterility is the requirement for safe injections. I am, however, concerned about local skin trauma caused by a used needle that is less sharp and smooth than a new needle and that is no longer lubricated.

For those who use syringes with needles and insulin in a vial, the situation may be more complex. While I am not aware of widespread reports of infections or other damage caused by reusing insulin syringes and needles, it is possible for insulin in the vial to become contaminated. The potential for precipitation of insulin in the needle may also be a problem, especially if more than one type of insulin is used.

While I don’t necessarily advocate reusing disposables, I know that many of my patients have been successful with such cost-saving measures, which also happen to be convenient. I encourage my patients to look for new approaches to day-to-day management of diabetes, and together we learn what works best.

When starting insulin, I do not suggest reusing syringes, the needles are very fine & sharp and are Teflon lubricated, the injection does not normally hurt at all the first time it is used. If you have any fear or anxiety about injections, keep it simple and painless, use the needles only once. After you have become used to the injections, if cost becomes a big factor, you may want to consider reusing the needles a few times (but don’t overdo it).